Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Colorado Gold Conference Highlights

Hi All,
Just back from a fun, informative weekend at the Colorado Gold and thought I'd pass on some information:

1) GREAT session called Cold Critiques Reads where Agent Miriam Kriss and Editor Ben LeRoy listened to moderator read first page and a half of a random volunteer submission and either of them would stop the reading when they were fed up and then explained to the audience why they would reject it --or ask for more. It was very entertaining, but also an enlightening glimpse into the reasons behind rejections. And occasionally, they didn't agree, so the fickle subjectivity card came into play. I'd love to see more of those by a variety of agents and editors!

2) Romance Author Shirley Jump, author of more than like 34 books, did a great workshop on writing the synopsis that sells.

3) The Agent panel, featuring Kristen Nelson, Miriam Kriss, Becca Stump, and Donna Bagdasarian was entertaining and informative. The tone was very no-nonsense and blunt. They would like to see more "smart, sexy, salable books". Becca Stumpf would like to see more Sci/Fi for young people and girl protagonists. So if that's what you write--query her!

They all said do not even TRY to chase the trends--work to identify new trends and if THEY knew what the new, hottest thing would be, they'd all be rich. They particularly emphasized the importance of voice--so much so that I was tempted to print out the first page of my story and hand it to them and ask if this "voice" was anything they might be interested in. I mean, really, why waste everybody's time even pitching the story if they might not like your voice?

They all--editors included--seemed so emphatic about voice, that in my cynicism, I thought, heck, at the next conference, why not make ALL the agents and editors read the first page of conference attendee's work--anonymously, of course, then check the box next to the voices that are acceptable to them. I mean this would really streamline things quite a bit, I'd think. Right? BTW--I'm only half kidding.

4) I LOVED this question to the editors: Will font make or break the deal? HA HA to all those PICKY contests!!! They all agreed that webdings wedinrt IsIs the only totally unacceptable font. Ben LeRoy HATES currier new--but that's just his pet peeve. As long as it's legible and NOT cutsie, they're pretty flexible.

5) When asked if first publishing with a small press hurts your chances with a larger publisher, they all agreed NO. In fact, Daniela Rapp with St. Martin's said that they "regularly monitor what the small presses are publishing looking for up-and-coming authors, waiting to pounce and steal them." Then Denise Little recounted the famous Tom Clancy story where after being utterly, widely rejected by EVERY big publishing house in New York--twice, he published with a tiny Naval press and his book contained stuff somebody thought was top secret, so the white house aid put the book on President Regan's desk. Well, Regan just thought it was a suggested read, and read it for fun. When leaving on vacation a reporter asked him what was in his hand, and he held up the Clancy book and read the title and author and said, "Best book I ever read." And the rest is history .

6) How much editing do the editors still do? Quite a bit. All these editors are very hands-on. It depends upon the book, but they do what they need to do. Oops, the editors on the panel were, Ben LeRoy--Bleak House, Daniela Rapp, St. Martin's, Denise Little, Tekno & Five Star, ad Faith Black of Avalon.

7) Also, St. Martin's publishes 600 books/yr. WOW. I recently heard that there are something like 140,000 new books published every year. Holy Cow, that's a LOT of competition! And we thought it was bad just getting to publication. No wonder authors now have to promote so much.

8) The words of advice from agents and editors: Keep writing. Don't give up. READ, READ, READ! People who make it to the top learn every day. They listen and learn. Denise Little tells us that Dean Koontz took editing better than anybody. Sooo if he can be gracious about editing, I guess I can too.

There were lots of wonderful workshops, but these are just a few of the highlights and current news from New York. Next time, be there!

8 comments:

Donnell said...

T! Fantastic report on the Colorado Gold. I wish I could have been there; thanks to you I feel like I was. Well done!

Misty Evans said...

Interesting information, Theresa. Thanks for sharing all that with us. You're spreading hope!

I'd never heard the Tom Clancy story - what a funny one! You just never know where you're book might turn up or who might help you get your foot in the door.

Thanks for the report!

Karen Duvall said...

Theresa, I didn't know you were there! I would have loved to have had a drink with you. I had the BEST time, but then I always do. I swear this is one of the best conferences out there.

I blogged about the conference, too, and will probably continue to do so all week (just cuz I can. Ha!). 8^) I didn't have a pitch session, but I did do the Friday afternoon workshop with Daniela Rapp, where the totally unexpected happened. You can read about it on my blog: www.karenduvall.blogspot.com

Edie said...

Thanks for all the information! I can be gracious about editing too. Love your idea about submitting pages to see if the agents/editors love your voice. I'd go for that!

Donnell said...

Hmmm, T. You may not have much influence over the Colorado Gold, but I've heard you do have some clout over at the Sandy. What do you think about an anonymous "voice" read ??

Arkansas Cyndi said...

Great info. Sounds like a wonderful conference.

I sat in on a cold read like you describe...Miriam Kriss and Kate Duffy was on that panel. SOO interesting. And you're right, subjectivity did seem to come into play.

Donnell said...

T, if you ever check the blog, LOL, I'd love for you to tell readers how Shirley Jump sells on proposal :) I thought that was so interesting and she obviously follows through.

Theresa said...

Karen,
That's terrific news about the St. Martin's request!! Good luck! I chatted quite a bit with your critique buddies who were going to point you out to me, but our paths never crossed. Next time we'll make a point of it!

Donnell,Yeah, I do have some influence over the Crested Butte Conference and I'm SO excited 'cause I've got some GREAT editor final judges for The Sandy--MIRA just agreed to judge romance category!!! And the word is out and editors want to come to the conference now, so we'll try to finagle some cool workshops this June.

As for Shirley Jump--she's so experienced, she just sold 3 books on verbal synopses!! After getting 30-some books under her belt, I guess they figure she can deliver.